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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Reviewed by Tuxxer

9 out of 10

Certain pieces have to come together to make an effective story on film. Without beating around the bush, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead delivers. A cast of veteran actors as solid as oak, a heartbreaking script and skillful edits weave together overlapping pieces of the whole that become fresh even on a second visit. It's good.

Hank Hanson (Ethan Hawke) is a down-on-his-luck divorcee dad who is desperate to pay the bills for his daughter's upscale education. His ex-wife despises him, his daughter resents his empty promises and he struggles to feel like anything but a failure. His brother Andy (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) appears to have it all: a lucrative job, a beautiful wife and oh yes, cash to spare.

It comes as a surprise, then, when older brother Andy approaches Hank with an offer: Fifty percent of the take off a jewelry store robbery that will solve both their financial woes. Their target is a 'mom and pop' establishment. The catch? It's their Mom and Pop.

The story travels back and forth in time-before, after and during the robbery-and hops between perspectives of the parties involved with minimal jarring.

The main plot, which is material enough, is only enhanced by the relationships between the characters and the secrets they keep. Andy appears to be made of stone (not unlike his father, played by Albert Finney), while Hank struggles to keep his cool. The contrast superbly sweetens the effect of the film.

There's a fair amount of graphic sex-a startling way to begin the movie, but it's Marisa Tomei. Who am I to complain? No shortage of language and violence (there is a robbery at gunpoint, after all) round out a well-earned R rating.

The DVD features a making-of featurette and commentary w/ the cast and director Sydney Lumet. Icing on an already delightfully bittersweet cake.

Pacing suffers only the occasional lull, as the plot orbits the robbery and its after-effects. Lovers of powerful writing and superb acting will not be disappointed in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I give it 9 out of 10.

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